If you notice your children examining the doors and windows around your house next week, don't be alarmed; they're merely planning their escape.
Next week, Rim country fire departments are taking part in "The Great Escape," a nationwide effort to promote fire safety in conjunction with National Fire Prevention Week Oct. 3-9.
To encourage fire safety among young students, fire departments sponsor The Great Escape contest. Participants in the contest will evaluate their homes and draw out detailed emergency exit plans for their families to use in case of fire.
Payson Fire Marshal Jack Babb said escape plans should include a primary and secondary escape route from each room of the house. Completed plans must be turned in to the Payson Fire Department for judging. One winning entry from each of the Rim country fire departments will move on to the national level to compete for the grand prize.
Then, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6, families are encouraged to practice their escape plans.
"If you see your neighbors climbing out the windows, they're probably doing The Great Escape," firefighter Dawn Zurcher said.
Free smoke detectors
Firefighters this week also will be making their jobs a little easier by making sure homes are a little safer.
"A working smoke detector increases your chance for survival in a house fire by 50 percent," Babb said. "All homes should have at least one smoke detector."
The fire department will install free smoke detectors in homes that don't have them.
Fifty smoke detectors were donated to the Payson Fire Department by friends of Zurcher's at Taylor Field in Marana, Ariz. The fire department matched that donation and has 100 First Alert smoke detectors ready for installation.
"If you've already got one, now is a good time to test your batteries, or to make sure the batteries haven't been removed," the fire marshal said.
Smoke detectors are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Appointments for installation can be made by calling the fire department.
For more information about Fire Prevention Week, or questions about fire safety, call the Payson Fire Department at 474-3369, or call the department in your community.